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Vowell v. Kander

Court of Appeals of Missouri, Western District, Special Division

June 19, 2014

NATALIE A. VOWELL, Appellant,
v.
JASON KANDER, IN HIS OFFICIAL CAPACITY AS MISSOURI SECRETARY OF STATE, Respondent

Page 268

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 269

APPEAL FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF COLE COUNTY, MISSOURI. The Honorable Jon E. Beetem, Judge.

David Roland, for Appellant.

James R. Layton, for Respondent.

Before: James E. Welsh, Chief Judge, Joseph M. Ellis, Judge and Karen King Mitchell, Judge. All concur.

OPINION

Joseph M. Ellis, Judge

Page 270

Natalie A. Vowell appeals from the Circuit Court of Cole County's dismissal of her Petition for Declaratory Judgment and Injunctive relief filed against Jason Kander, in his official capacity as Missouri Secretary of State.

On March 11, 2014, Appellant filed with Respondent's office her declaration of candidacy to serve as the representative in the Missouri General Assembly for the 78th Representative District, seeking to be listed as a candidate in the Democratic primary election to be held on August 5, 2014. Respondent's office accepted, signed, and filed that declaration of candidacy.

On May 6, 2014, Respondent's office sent a letter to Appellant questioning her qualifications to serve as a representative for the 78th District because an examination of voter registration records indicated that she had not been a qualified voter for at least two years prior to the November 4, 2014 election. The letter stated that, if Appellant did not provide Respondent with documentation showing that she had been registered to vote in the State of Missouri for the two years required by Article III, Section 4 of the Missouri Constitution, Respondent would not certify Appellant's name for the ballot.

On May 13, 2014, Appellant filed her Petition for Declaratory Judgment and Injunctive Relief seeking a declaration that Missouri law does not grant Respondent the authority to evaluate a candidate's qualifications and to exclude a candidate's name from the list of candidates certified to appear on a primary election ballot based on such an evaluation. In the alternative, she sought a declaration that Respondent's actions denied her reasonable due process to challenge an adverse decision related to her candidacy. She also sought a temporary restraining order and a permanent injunction prohibiting Respondent from excluding her name from the list of candidates certified to appear on the primary election ballot.

On May 16, 2014, the trial court conducted a hearing on Appellant's motion for a temporary restraining order. Prior to the hearing, the parties agreed to " argue the motion on the concept of judgment on the pleadings." The parties then presented their legal arguments regarding Respondent's authority to determine a candidate's qualifications. As part of his argument, Respondent asserted that there was no justiciable controversy and that Appellant lacked standing to request a declaration regarding Respondent's authority to determine whether Appellant was qualified to serve as a representative because Appellant was not, in fact, qualified to serve as a representative. Appellant responded by arguing that she had standing and that the issue of her qualifications was not before the court. She claimed that the only issue before the court was whether, ...


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